Cane toads

A heartfelt cry from the Kununurra Community to the Nation.

We will Stop the Cane Toads getting into WA!


The Kimberley Toad Busters are the only truly totally volunteer group
on the ground (since the 10th Sept. 2005) trying to stop the cane toad
from getting across the Western Australian border. To date we have
largely met all field expenses from community fund raising efforts, local government input and community donations, the
ongoing support of Biodiversity Protection Inc (and recently a comittment of $79,000 from the Federal Government) .
Despite the State Government committment of half a million dollars towards the cane toad fight, this local volunteer
group has not received one dollar of this money. Eight months later this volunteer group is sustainable only because of
local community financial input and the belief that we have provided, for the first time in 70 years, an ability to 'hold' the
cane toad front line while government and scientists find a 'biological' solution to the relentless march of the cane toad.

Papers From the 2005 Cane Toad Forum held in Kununurra


Proceedings of the

East Kimberley Cane Toad Forum

Facilitated and organised by

Kimberley Specialists in Research Inc. with assistance from Andrew Storey.

Kununurra , Western Australia

15 - 16 March 2005




Andrew W. Storey

Sandra L. Boulter


Published by Kimberley Specialists. In Research Inc.



List of Contributors.




Predicting ecological impacts of cane toads
– a preliminary risk assessment for Kakadu National Park.

A summary of WWF
-Australia’s nomination of Predation, Competition and Lethal Toxic Ingestion Caused by Cane Toads as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the role and responsibilities of the National Cane Toad Taskforce.




Ecology of cane toads in new and established populations.

Movement and dispersal in established and invading toad populations.

Studying impacts of cane toads on a population of freshwater crocodiles and a summary of known impacts to date.

Local extinction of northern quolls
– the effect of cane toad invasion.

Predicting the impact of cane toads on native fauna: a mechanistic approach.




Bio-control approaches to cane toad control.

Cane toad trap trials
– preliminary observations.

Regional exclusion barriers against cane toads
– concepts, terrain challenges, new barrier designs and route options in the East Kimberley.




Assessing the impact of the cane toad, Bufo marinus, on the terrestrial fauna of the East Kimberley.

Approaches for monitoring effects of cane toads on aquatic fauna - fishes and invertebrates.

Wildlife at threat from cane toads: Identification of susceptible frog, snake and small mammal taxa and possible conservation actions.




The role for community based advocacy in the campaign to stop cane toads.

Management of the cane toad and its impacts in the Northern Territory.

Cane toads in Western Australia: a prediction.

“The Western Front”: a battle plan to keep cane toads out of Western Australia




Lee Scott-Virtue & Dean Goodgame. Kimberley Specialists


List of Contributors

Alford R.A., School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University , Townsville, Qld. 4811
Britton A., Wildlife Management International PO Box 530, Sanderston, NT 0813
Guého R.P., Northern Habitat Consultants, PO Box 2550 Broome WA 6725
Holmes J., Northern Savannas Coordinator, Threatened Species Network;
Oakwood M., Envirotek, Ecological Research, Survey and Education PO Box 25 , Nana Glen NSW 2450
Pearson D., Science Division, Dept of Conservation and Land Management, PO Box 51 Wanneroo WA 6946
Phillips B.L., School of Biological Sciences, A08, University of Sydney , NSW 2006
Robinson T.J., CSIRO Entomology, GPO Box 1700 , Canberra , ACT 2601
Saalfeld K., Biodiversity Conservation, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, N.T.
Sawyers G., Frog Watch ( Northern Territory ), GPO Box 4508 , Darwin NT 0801
Schwarzkopf L., School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University , Townsville, Qld. 4811
Scott-Virtue L., Kimberley Specialists in Research Inc. PO Box 738 , Kununurra , WA 6743
Sharp P., Cane Toad Exclusion Consultancy (CTEC), Darwin , NT
Storey A.W., School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia , Crawley , WA , 6009
Tallentire C., Conservation Council of Western Australia , Lotteries House, Delhi St, West Perth , WA
Thompson A., SEEKS,; PO Box 1243 , Kununurra , WA 6743
Thompson G.G., Centre for Ecosystem Management, Edith Cowan University, WA
Walden D., Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss), GPO Box 461, Darwin, N.T., 0801
Winton T., contact details not provided


This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the release of cane toads into the cane fields of Queensland - an ignominious commemoration if ever there was one. It reminds us of the mistakes of the past, of the many sad and stupid chapters in the history of feral introductions into Australia that have bequeathed such a legacy of extinction and degradation to future generations. This year also marks seventy years of failure to deal with the issue of cane toad colonisation. In a lifetime, three-score-and-ten-years, nobody, no institution, no agency, no government can hold its head high and say that it has examined the mistakes of the past and then properly dealt with the results. The disastrous outcomes of cane toad infestation do not simply lie in the past; they live on. Not only that, they travel and multiply in the present, like the toads themselves. Until very recently there has been precious little political will or properly-funded and co-ordinated scientific and civic effort to address the problem.

The meeting of scientists and community representatives in Kununurra on 19-20 March, 2005 was, I think, a much more positive landmark to celebrate. It showed a fresh sense of purpose, a willingness to consult and listen and a sharing of research and ideas that brought a focus to the problem that does not seem to have existed before. It was an instance of a community engaging with science and looking to scientists with an immediacy and spirit of common purpose. Likewise it was an opportunity for scientists to not only have a public and popular platform for their work, but for their research to be put at the service of the wider community. The spectacle of science and community activism working at one purpose was a highlight of the forum, but it was in accord with the atmosphere of the meeting where within the community itself, many barriers were crossed for the occasion; it’s not every day in northern Australia that whitefellas and blackfellas, conservationists and agency representatives, rural and city folk, left wingers and right wingers put aside traditional awkwardness to share expertise and information. In this sense the meeting was inspirational. People rose above old hostilities and suspicions.

The Kununurra forum didn’t solve the seventy year old problem of Bufomarinus, but it did offer some hope for communities in the path of the toad’s westward migration for possible short-term strategies, like trapping programs. It helped heighten awareness of the problem within the wider community and I suspect that it created new synergies within the community of scientists and specialists at work on long-term solutions. At a political level it aided a shift in government rhetoric and financial commitment, neither of which is yet remotely adequate to the size of the task presented, but which promises much at a State and Federal level.

For the Kimberley community and the broader population of WA, the forum highlighted the fact that on economic, environmental and social grounds, the imminent cane toad invasion is a looming crisis that requires immediate and unstinting action on behalf of local, State and Federal governments and a sense of informed urgency and vigilance on the part of the wider community.

Surely seventy years is long enough for science, government and the citizens they serve to come up with a strong and co-ordinated response to this feral menace. Too little has been done for too long by too many in the service of so few to so meagre a result. My hope is that the Kununurra Forum marks the end of the passive fatalism of the past. It may point to a new era, a new attitude and much new work, theoretical and practical, scientific and political. The signs so far are good. But the job of toad control still lies before us.

Tim Winton

22 June, 2005